Diary of a Patek Philippe collector – can this review help you buy a watch? (5th July 2020)

As a general rule, 99% of the opinion that one reads about watches is a total waste of time. I thought long and hard about that statement, but I believe it to be true.

I think there are some categories of opinion that do carry some validity. For example, when someone is reporting technical facts about a watch, then that can be very useful. A further example would be when someone who either owns a watch or has had an experience of wearing a watch for an extended period gives a personal review of what they like. That can also be useful.

However, even in this latter case, one person’s taste can be highly individualistic and may in no way mesh neatly with the tastes of a potential buyer reading the review. So, in essence, I stick with my original concept that if you are thinking of buying a watch, then by all means evaluate how other owners have experienced the watch and also what technical aspects exist about the watch.

However, then try the watch on and get a feel for whether you like it or not. Work out whether it ticks enough of your personal checklist of boxes. Work out whether it appeals to your taste. And, work out just how much you like it and why. All of this advice seems reasonable. But should you listen to the absolute avalanche of opinion that is now on the internet, on blogs (like this) and on Instagram? Forget it, as it is likely to be a total waste of time. I will explain why I think so. I will also explain how I rationalise writing this blog.

Just over a week ago, Patek Philippe released its first watch for 2020. It was the Ref 6007A. A limited edition of 1000 watches to commemorate when the first work groups moved into the new PP6 production building. The Ref. 6007 is a steel Calatrava, 40mm diameter and 9.1mm height. It has a definitively sporty feel to it. Contrasting the steel case is a grey-blue dial with an embossed “carbon” pattern. It is sleek. To my taste, it looks great.

Taste is a subjective issue. But to my mind, this looks great. Sporty. Sleek. Steel. my favourite coloured dial. I would be happy with this on my wrist. Actually more than just happy.

The immediate reaction over many of the media sites was negative. It was suggested that the watch looked very similar to a number of other watches, and in particular the JLC Memovox which has the same steel/blue contrast. “Why pay double for the Patek Philippe when the JLC costs half and looks similar?” was a very typical comment.

Now, what I will say is this. The majority of people who gave opinion have almost certainly never owned a single Patek Philippe watch. Further, with almost total certainty, the vast majority of those that were only too willing to criticise the Ref. 6007A have never had the watch on their wrist. The world we live in seems only too quick to put things down and be negative. Doing so often results in positives being missed.

Again, it is a matter of taste, but I love that “carbonised” inner dial.

So, let me start with some positives. If I was walking around London one evening on my way to a nice restaurant and looked down on my wrist and saw the Ref. 6007A, I would almost certainly enjoy having that watch on my wrist. I say that as a seasoned collector with a number of Pateks in my collection. If I was new to Patek Philippe and decided this would be my entry into the experience, I would be beside myself with joy to own it. The watch has a freshness and coolness about it that, I suspect, will deliver a lot of happiness to its owner.

If there was one shot that pushed me over the edge, this would be it. Such a sleek design.

And while I am at it, let me deal with the JLC comparison. Yes, I can see why some people suggest that the two watches have similarities. For the record, I like the Memovox too. But the Ref. 6007A costs around double the price of the Memovox.

Of course it does.

One has Patek Philippe written on the dial. The other has Jaeger Le Coultre. And with Patek Philippe one gets a certain level of quality, finishing and exclusivity that simply does not come with a modern JLC. One is a Patek. One is a JLC. My very first special watch was a JLC. I still own it. I have a great deal of sentimental attachment to JLC. But they are different quality. A Porsche GT3 and a Bugatti Chiron will both get you to 60 m.p.h in well under 4 seconds, but the latter will cost many multiples of the former. Both are extremely fine cars. But they bring very different things to the table.

I also want to deal with the vast array of negatives that come from another group of internet “experts.” Disliking something that you cannot afford is a way of rationalising why you won’t buy it in a way that does not cause “issues”. It is a way of re-directing criticism at Patek Philippe rather than just recognising that the watch is priced out of reach. When I first started collecting watches, I desperately wanted to buy a Patek Philippe. I was nowhere near able to afford one. My way of dealing with the issue was that I saw the gap between my poverty and the Patek Philippe I craved as a temporary situation.

An alternative (and more negative) way of dealing with the “issue” of not being able to afford a PP watch is to start disliking Patek Philippe. I know a few Patek Philippe collectors who now adopt this type of thinking regarding modern Patek Philippe. It is deflection. It is also often the case that for that which we do not understand, we choose to dislike and disparage. If strong opinion comes from someone who neither owns nor has experience of a watch, its good to question what motivates such a strong opinion.

Over the last 20 years, Patek Philippe has evolved. It is no longer the exclusively traditionalist manufacturer that it used to be. Patek Philippe, however, has not abandoned its traditions at all. Rather, it has expanded on them. Historically, the Calatrava was a watch that exemplified the simplicity of a classy watch. Typically quite small and with a dial aesthetic based on purity of aesthetic. It was also, typically, in gold or platinum and had a dressiness to it that was hard to beat. Patek Philippe still produce watches of this nature. They still cater to this core tradition.

However, the move over the last 20 years or so has seen them strike out towards the younger segment of the market. Watches have been made that are, on average, a bit bigger than the historical precedents. Dials are bolder. There is much more colour being used in both dials, contrasts, even straps. Complications have been bolder. In short, Patek Philippe have embraced a more youthful and diverse clientele.

Now, this new genre of watches that has been evolving over the last 20 years may not be to the taste of everyone. I see nothing untoward in that perspective at all. However, for me, I now see a company that is catering to a much broader spectrum of tastes. I just can’t see that as a bad thing. I don’t have to like the new Nautilus because there are now numerous versions of the Nautilus that might appeal more. And, I don’t have to like the new Calatrava because there are now several different iterations of the Calatrava that span a very broad taste spectrum. You want a Pilot’s watch? No problem. Rose gold dress watch? No problem. Patek Philippe caters for it all.

And that brings me full circle to the issue of taste again. I don’t write this blog to influence opinion. As was stated in my blog a few weeks ago, I write it because I find it fun and because it helps me in my own collecting process. I like the Ref. 6007A. I don’t mind whether you like it or not. But whatever you do, don’t decide on the basis of what I say. Or for that matter, what any of the so-called expert says. To be 100% clear, I have no problem with seeing different opinions. It is often interesting. However, so often it is the case that opinions on taste and style are expressed as if they are factual. “This watch is ugly.” “This watch represents poor value for money.” “The lugs are inappropriate.” “Pink dials are passé.” I see comments like this all the time. These are opinions that people have shared about different watches. And there is not a fact in there. The only truths we have about our tastes are what apply to ourselves.

So, what about the Ref. 6007A? Look at the watch. Try it on. Feel it on your wrist. Do you look down at it and it makes you smile? Does it bring joy? What do other owners say? These are the type of questions worth asking. As for the avalanche of other opinions…..worthless.